Avoid back pain from driving

6 Tips to prevent back pain from driving

Whether driving for business or pleasure, spending extended periods of time behind the wheel is a common cause of back problems. The forces felt from accelerating, braking, turning or even from bumps in the road can put added pressure on your back and lead to discomfort or pain which can escalate over time.

If you drive for work the prolonged time you spend behind the wheel could be increasing your chances of back trouble.

In fact, in a recent survey^ of van drivers; 70% claimed they have been forced at some point to take time off work due to problems with back pain.

Although many professions which require a van also require manual work which may heighten the risk of ‘builder’s back’ spending too much time behind the wheel could be where many of these back problems originate.

So how can you prevent bad back from driving?


1. Adjust your seat

In the same way as sitting in an uncomfortable office chair all day can wreak havoc on your posture, driving for long periods with an improperly set up driving seat can also lead to back pain.

There are lots of aspects to consider when monitoring your driving position but ensuring your seat is upright at around a 100-degree angle will ensure your back is supported.

Adjust your seat by sliding it to a comfortable distance from the pedals and steering wheel and ensure your head is centered in the middle of your headrest to further prevent any aches or pains developing.

Did you know, driving with a wallet or mobile phone in your back pocket can cause bad back?

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2. Adjust your mirrors

Adjusting your body a little to gain a better view may not seem particularly stressful on your back but twisting even slightly with the impact a jolt in the road could have can result in injury.

Although needing clear visibility out of your wing and rear-view mirrors is a given, you may not always consider whether they are in the best position for your comfort.

Before each journey you should check the position of your mirrors to ensure you are not leaning or twisting your body to see out of them.

3. Lumbar support

The lumbar support on your driving seat is usually curved and raised near the lower half of the back-rest, however, not all vehicles will have proper lumbar support built in.

If your vehicle does have this feature, ensure the support is roughly lined up with your waste and that it completely fills the natural curve in your back.

If your vehicle does not have lumbar support built-in, the same can be achieved with a rolled-up towel in the same position, or you can even buy a detachable support.

4. Check your driving position

Regularly assessing your driving position is especially important for those who drive long hours throughout the week for work.

While you should always find the position most comfortable for you, a good place to start is to outstretch your arms with your wrists on the top of the steering wheel and ensure your back and shoulders are still resting against your back-rest.

With your feet pushing the brake and clutch all the way to the floor there should be a slight bend in your knee.

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5. Use cruise control

One of the reasons your back takes on more stress while driving is that your feet are busy working the pedals, therefore your weight is less evenly distributed than when sitting normally.

If your vehicle has a cruise control function – and it is safe to use – utilising it will allow you to rest both feet on the floor and take some of the pressure off your lower back.

6. Rest and stretch

For anyone who has ever taken a long road trip, whether driving or as a passenger, you’ll understand the need for regular breaks to stretch your legs and avoid cabin fever.

This should be no different when driving for work.

Being cooped up in the driving seat all day is not good for your body and you should take breaks at regular intervals to rest, stretch and walk around to help alleviate any aches or pains that build while driving.


^Survey carried out by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles